I know Steinbock is the German word for a Capricorn, which is of course an animal and one of the twelve signs of zodiac, but in the vast, diverse world of metal music I never ran across a band with this name. Up until now that is. A little research uncovers staggeringly little information, apparently there’s not much to tell about this Lleida, Spain based hard rock/heavy metal band. Formed in 2013 the quartet, consisting of Camilo Lladós (rhythm guitar, vocals), Joanjo Ramirez (drums), Marc Pérez (lead guitar) and Rafa Rodriguez (bass), have 3 releases to their name, all in the form of an EP. This time however, they decided to release their maiden full-length album, which they called Till the Limit. And that covers the information on Steinbock. Maybe they prefer letting their music do the talking, which, after listening to Till the Limit, I can only encourage. But enough with the spoilers, let’s get to it.
Opener Trash is a great example of what you can expect from Steinbock on this release. It has a nice old school vibe which, combined with the entire setup of the song vaguely reminds me of the older work of a certain band called Metallica. A reminder that becomes pretty strong when Camilo’s vocals enter the spotlight, because even though it isn’t all that obvious at first, he at times sounds so much like James Hetfield one could be forgiven for thinking he is actually the one singing here. It doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out Metallica, and then especially the pre-Black Album work, has had a huge influence on Steinbock’s music. Even the multi-vocal choruses (Gamble Man) and the highlighted bass parts are present. No need to elaborate on this any further, anyone who knows Metallica will agree that, in for example War, there’s a definite similarity in music, making it a feast of recognition at times.
So, we are dealing with the one millionth Metallica copycat here then? Well, to be honest: no, not at all. Calling them copycats is definitely selling them short. Way too short. Despite the very obvious Metallica sound that is embedded in, sometimes large, parts of about every song on Till the Limit, there is more than enough variation from said sound along with other musical influences to distinguish the tunes from both Metallica and the copycats that are abundantly out there. The compositions of the songs are not only of high quality, the aforementioned variation and influences have also been implemented in the song structures. This makes sure the tunes still have an identity of their own and at the same time prevents any audible similarities with any band get in the way or influence the experience of listening to this great release. And great is definitely what it is, there really is more than enough to enjoy here. The guys certainly not only know what they are doing, they also know all too well where they want to be and how to get there.
Almost every song has a strong intro that immediately grabs your attention. Whether it’s the tight bass line introducing 4 Vices, the more thrashy intro of War or the alerting, uprising alliance between guitar and drums starting Break It, Split It, you have no choice but to get focused. Each song follows up on its intro with tight riffing, humming bass lines, rhythm-defying drums and of course song-tuned clean vocals. Added to that are the spotlight moments that every instrument gets somewhere along this release, in the form of some sort of solo or a highlighted part. All this combined with the at times catchy compositions make it all fit like the proverbial glove, resulting in this seriously great release. Every metal fan in the world, save from the ones that solely prefer extreme varieties of metal, will find something to his or her liking on this. Highly recommended and a spot in my year list for sure.
To end this review a quote from the rather hilarious song with ditto clip Beer, where the guys end in style with a quote spoken with a thick English accent: Hi guys, this is Steinbock and we want you to drink responsibly. Remember, nobody likes a drunk pain in the ass. There… if this doesn’t persuade you to give this a try I don’t know what will.